Are there any words in Swedish borrowed directly from Sami languages? Excluding proper nouns. One example would be enough for "yes" answer. A link to some research on related subject is required for "no" answer.


The set of candidates is small. The word "tundra" is from Saami (Proto-Sami *tuonder), though I don't know if it went direct to Swedish, or via Russian. There are some Saami words used in Norwegian (at least northern Norwegian) which therefore might also be used in Swedish, namely "duotji" (handicrafts, not sure how it's spelled in Norwegian), and "joik", but one might decide that they aren't yet words 'in Scandinavian'. A rather old word is Swedish lunnefågel, Norwegian lunde "puffin", from Proto-Sami *londe and Finno-Urgic *lunta "bird". Another (possibly not in Swedish) is the northern Norwegian semi-dried cod boknefisk, from Saami boahk- "dry". I would be remiss if I didn't mention samisk "Saami", which is from Saami.

Addendum: I have to somewhat retract the example duodji (N. Saami spelling), related to the verb duddjot "to do work by hand". Sammallahti indicates this comes from Germanic tōwja and Old Notse tø̄ja "to accomplish". I was unaware of sarv, vaja, härk in Scandinavian, but you'd expect there to be more influence of Saami in the realm of reindeer terminology. In contrast to the words duodji and joik which are Saami words pretty transparently used in Scandinavian, sarv would most likely be from N. Saami sarvva where it means "moose", suggesting that it is an older loan. The example härk also seems to have undergone a semantic shift pointing to it being an older word, since the closest N. Saami noun is heargi "draft reindeer", with a number of related derivatives. Interestingly, there is one verb heargut "to be castrated (of reindeer)" with the missing semantic element. So while härk surely derives from Saami, it's not just a Saami word that happens to be used in Scandinavian (as duodji is).

Finally there is a Norwegian product name, Boazo, a brand of reindeer meat, transparently derived from N. Saami boazu – I don't know if that can called a loanword (analogous to Sriracha now being an English word).

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  • I think I have seen the spelling "duodji" in Norwegian. – OmarL Aug 7 '17 at 10:44
  • I've found a couple more examples now: sarv - male reindeer, vaja - female reindeer with calf, härk - castrated male reindeer. – Ondska Aug 8 '17 at 13:48

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